Wednesday Afternoon News, January 21
Branstad Wants To Hire Private Company To Oversee Medicaid Programs
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad's administration says he wants to hire a privately managed care company or set of companies to help run Iowa's Medicaid program.
Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers says more coordinated care would better serve patients and lower costs. The system could be implemented by the start of 2016.
Branstad's office projects the state would save more than $50 million in the first six months of the program. Additional information is not available about how those savings would be reached.
Rep. Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, is co-chairman of the main legislative committee overseeing health care programs. He says Branstad has the authority to make the change without a vote in the Legislature.
More than 560,000 Iowans are covered under Medicaid.
Public Safety Director Tells Employees To Behave Appropriately During Off Duty
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The acting commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety is telling employees they must behave professionally while off-duty or face consequences.
Roxann Ryan told troopers and agents in an email Tuesday that missteps in their private lives can reflect poorly on their credibility and undermine the public's trust.
The note comes after two high-profile incidents involving supervisors who showed poor judgment while off-duty.
Capt. Ken Clary was caught speeding in November outside of Des Moines while driving a vehicle for a nonprofit. A trooper let him go, but he was ticketed this month for driving 92 in a 70-mph zone after the incident became public.
Lt. Kelly Hindman is facing a review after writing on Facebook that he wished a sniper would shoot an ESPN announcer in the head.
Legislator's Trial Is Delayed
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Trial has been delayed for a former Iowa lawmaker accused of sexually abusing his wife at a care center.
Court records show the jury trial of former state Rep. Henry Rayhons is set to start on April 8. A pre-trial conference is scheduled at the end of March.
Rayhons' trial on a third-degree sexual abuse charge was scheduled to start Jan. 28. He has pleaded not guilty.
Rayhons, of Garner, is accused of having sexual contact with his wife, Donna Rayhons, while she was living at a care center and not able to give consent. Donna Rayhons died in August.
Messages left for Rayhons' attorney, Joel Yunek, were not immediately returned Wednesday.
Pope Removes Iowa Priest Due To Sex Abuse
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Pope Francis has defrocked an Iowa priest who was accused of abusing a minor years ago.
Howard Fitzgerald, who worked at parishes in central and western Iowa over the last 35 years, received notice of the pope's decision Monday.
Fitzgerald had been placed on indefinite leave in June from his most recent position serving at two Indianola parishes and Simpson College.
A Des Moines Archdiocese review committee found credible evidence that Fitzgerald sexually abused a minor in a "decades-old incident."
At the victim's request, church officials have not released information about when and where the abuse occurred.
Bishop Richard Pates wrote in a memo to employees that he's informed Fitzgerald that the pope "had personally granted dispensations in his case from the obligations of the priesthood and sacred celibacy."
Iowa Racial Impact Law
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Back in 2007, Iowa lawmakers learned that their state had the nation's highest disparity for sending blacks to prison. So they took a novel step.
They passed a law requiring analysts to draft "racial impact statements" on any proposals to create new crimes or tougher penalties. The statements were intended to help project how the measures might affect minority communities before any votes were cast.
A review by The Associated Press shows that the first-in-the-nation law appears to be having a modest effect. The statements have helped defeat some legislation that could have exacerbated disparities and provided a smoother path to passage for measures deemed neutral or beneficial to minorities.
Similar proposals have been adopted in Connecticut and Oregon. And more are likely to surface this year in other states.